Br J Sports Med 45:937-942 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090205
  • Reviews

Sedentary behaviour interventions in young people: a meta-analysis

  1. Rock E Braithwaite2
  1. 1School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2Department of Kinesiology & Recreation Administration, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Stuart Biddle, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK; s.j.h.biddle{at}
  • Accepted 26 June 2011
  • Published Online First 1 August 2011


Background There is increasing concern about the time young people spend in sedentary behaviour (‘sitting time’), especially with the development of attractive home-based electronic entertainment. This may have deleterious health effects.

Purpose To ascertain, through a meta-analytic review, whether interventions targeted at reducing sedentary behaviours in young people are successful.

Method ERIC, MedLine, PsychInfo, SportDiscus and the Cochrane Library databases were searched up to 2010. Titles and abstracts of identified papers were examined against inclusion criteria. Included papers were coded by three researchers.

Results 17 papers, including 17 independent samples (N=4976), met the inclusion criteria and were analysed. There was a small but significant effect in favour of sedentary behaviour reduction for intervention groups (Hedges' g = − 0.192; SE = 0.056; 95% CI = −0.303 to −0.082; p = 0.001). Moderator analyses produced no significant between-moderator results for any of the intervention or study characteristics, although trends were evident.

Conclusion Behaviour change interventions targeting reductions in sedentary behaviour have been shown to be successful, although effects are small. More needs to be known about how best to optimise intervention effects.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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